Photo: Gil Yochanan
Ilan Franco described incident
Photo: Gil Yochanan
Photo: Yossi Weinfeld
The van
Photo: Yossi Weinfeld
Traffic jam on Highway 1
Photo: Gil Yohanan

'Terrorist saw guns, didn't press switch'

Police officials describe dramatic highway chase and interception of terrorist headed to commit mass murder

Police apprehended Tuesday a terrorist who planned to carry out an attack in the heart of Israel. The man, a Palestinian in his twenties from the West Bank village of el-Yamun near Jenin, is a member of the Islamic Jihad. Jerusalem District Police Chief Ilan Franco defined the operation to thwart the attack, in the framework of which policemen too control over the stunned terrorists and nine other passengers in the vehicle he was riding, as successful.


"We managed to foil a multi-casualty terror attack in a crowded place," Franco said. He reported that the explosive device the terrorist was carrying contained 5-7 kilograms of explosives.


Deputy chief of the Harel police station near the capital, commander Ofer Dror, described the dramatic pursuit after the terrorist's car: "We set up a roadblock, and a van was nearing us close to the Harel bridge. He first slowed down, and then I noticed the driver was Arab. He sped through and drove past the roadblock, and then the pursuit started."


"He was driving very fast. Throughout the pursuit I requested assistance via radio, including a chopper. At a certain stage, due to the roadblocks, a traffic jam emerged. The vehicle drove on the hard shoulder, and a truck that was partly on the hard shoulder caused him to stop. I got out with other forces and went towards the vehicle with a drawn gun. A taxi driver was there too, who helped lock in the vehicle."


Video courtesy of Channel 2


The police still do not really know why the suicide bomber did not detonate the explosives, and they believe he simply was pressured after seeing police with drawn guns. Beit Shemesh police commander Oz Eliasi explained: "We think the reason the terrorist didn't press the activation switch is because he saw our weapons pointed at the vehicle's passengers."


Nine other Palestinians were in the vehicle, and police believe this is the reason he did not choose to detonate the device.


Large traffic jam on Highway 1 (Photo: Ofer Amram)


"We arrived at the scene, and surrounded the vehicle with drawn guns. We yelled at the driver to exit the vehicle, he was scared to come out, and this strengthened our suspicions. At the start we only saw the driver through the darkened windows. We ordered him to le on the floor and then we saw another head poking out from behind. We called out to them to come out while our guns were aimed at them," said Eliasi.


Major General Franco described the start of incident: "Close to 11:00 AM we received a warning about a terror attack planned for Jerusalem. Forces were spread out across the city, roadblocks were set up, and there was visible and concealed activity with a check of all cars. On Highway 1, a blue GMC vehicle was intercepted after a long pursuit which endangered vehicles. The vehicle contained ten suspects. A standard device was found in the vehicle."


Franco said that the driver was an east Jerusalem resident who drove the terrorist and other Palestinians without any authorization.


פרסום ראשון: 03.21.06, 17:54
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